October 2, 2010

The Problem of Ethics

"It’s ironic — no, it’s worse than that, it’s appalling — that, at the same time as the United States was prosecuting Nazi doctors for crimes against humanity, the U.S. government was supporting research that placed human subjects at enormous risk."
DR. MARK SIEGLER, of the Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, on a program in the late 1940’s to deliberately infect Guatemalans, with venereal diseases, in a test of penicillin."

This quote is from yesterday's New York Times Newsletter. An article is also devoted to the topic. Both NBC and CBS used a couple of minutes air time on the evening news.

"The experiments are “a dark chapter in the history of medicine,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Modern rules for federally financed research “absolutely prohibit” infecting people without their informed consent, Dr. Collins said. ", this, an excerpt from the article in the New York Times, written by Donald McGill.

These tests were done without the victims consent. So, what, if anything is going to happen? State Secretary Clinton issued an apology. Reparations will be paid, I imagine. Once again, money will kind of solve the problem, at least symbolically.

We grow up, learning, there are consequences, when we do something "wrong". Ethics, by definition is
"the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such".

Me personally, I tend to be way too lenient with my kid, when it comes to paying the consequences of "doing something wrong". I use reasoning, appeal to his sense of decency and common sense. I do believe we all have it, that intuitive sense of right and wrong. At least, I hope we do. Somehow, it seems to get lost along the way. Lost on the climb to various heights of power, glam and glory, where the oxygen supply seems to thin out, causing brain malfunction.

I struggle to understand how something like this can happen. Was there no one on the team of doctors, who remembered the Hippocratic oath? You know, the part about practicing medicine ethically? I think infecting someone with syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, people died of not too long ago, would fall under the category of "damn, this is some bad shit that may reverse my lot ergo bad karma" or whatever else these people believe in.

See, I don't believe in the "they will burn in hell" as some consolation prize for the abused. Frankly, I think crimes committed on Earth should also be judged and punished on Earth. Seems fair, no?


Colleen Friesen said...

Well said Veronica. I agree. How do people do those things and then tuck themselves into bed at night? And yes, probably money will be thrown at it and then all is absolved? Or at least until the next scandal is uncovered....Thanks for this post.

Colleen Friesen

Veronika said...

Hey Colleen, thanks for reading it. ; ) much appreciated.